Hello from Nepal: Our 2019 Indrawati community visit

In early October, members of the HDFA board travelled to Nepal to visit the Indrawati communities we support there. We weren’t disappointed with the warm reception we received or with the great progress being made.

We were also scoping out our new Reach Higher trek – one that we will be taking supporters on in the near future - and that could include you! Read more about the trek here.

We arrived in Kathmandu at the tail end of the monsoon (not quite the ideal season for accessing remote areas!) and the mountains had seen a lot of rain. We set out on a drive that while only 40 or so kilometres out of Kathmandu took us seven hours, barely leaving first gear as our Jeep lumbered over mud and rocks and we made our way up through the Kathmandu valley and into the Himalayas. 

We eventually arrived at Bhotang, on the steep eastern bank of the Indrawati River and were greeted wholeheartedly by members of the local health management committees and local government representatives. These are the key people who work in close partnership with us to develop health services in this remote area.

Considering most buildings were destroyed or damaged in the 2015 earthquake, it was remarkable to see a thriving health post now serving the community of around 5000 on the eastern bank, including bringing a safer birthing environment to mothers for the first time. We spent some time with the three impressive midwives who are providing critical outreach services to the surrounding villages. One of the women proudly told us about a premature baby that was delivered two months early but is now a thriving four-month-year-old. 

We also met with our local social mobiliser whose understanding and interaction with the local community helps to make sure the health and outreach services, and other elements of our community development work, are delivered in the best way possible and really meeting community needs.

One impressive recent initiative is our pilot mushroom plots, which are yielding great results. In cool, dark rooms, cylindrical bags of damp straw dangle from the ceiling as the mushroom spores inside ferment. When the time is right, the bags are cut open and oyster mushrooms begin to grow out. This high nutrition, high yield and high income-generating crop shows a lot of promise. We are now looking at ways to establish microfinancing through a farmer’s coop so that needy but enterprising families can begin to farm mushrooms.

Elsewhere in the region, and particularly on the western bank of the river, we were able to visit a number of greenhouses and new crop farms which have been established over the past year as part of our Seeds of Hope initiative. Participation in this initiative is overwhelmingly by women.

We spent time with Dawa Dolma and she told us of how the citrus and tomato farms she has been able to establish are giving her family the extra income and support which she sees as key to enabling her daughters to complete school and have greater choice about what they do in the future. The new crops have already given Dawa Dolma a greater ability to provide for her family and taken the pressure off her children to help out at home, freeing them up to concentrate on school. And looking to the future, Dawa Dolma sees the farm as providing a stable base so that the children can go on to do what they want later in life knowing that the family foundation is sound. They will have greater freedom to choose their own future – and this is what HDFA is all about.

How wonderful it was to see our work in action. You can check out more images from the trip in the image gallery.

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